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Chingola has 1,700 new HIV infections’

CHINGOLA district has recorded 1,700 new HIV infections from January to June 2015, which have been attributed mainly to the town being located in the transit corridor and also increased prostitution, district Aids Task Force (DATF) co-ordinator John Lumbwe has said.
Reverend Lumbwe said in Chingola last Friday during the end of year briefing to stakeholders that new infections in Chingola are expected to reach over 3,000 by end of this year.
“The new infection rate for Chingola is 1,700 from January to June, representing a 14 percent increase from last year. Before the end of this year, we expect the district to have in excess of 3,000 cases,” he said.
Rev Lumbwe said Zambia records 45,000 new HIV infections per year, and this year, the country aims to reduce the number to 2,700.
He said current trends show that Chingola will not be able to reduce new infections in the district.
Rev Lumbwe attributed the high number of new HIV/AIDS infections to Chingola being a transit town to Kasumbalesa Border.
“Apart from Chingola being a transit town, some lodges and guest houses here operate as brothels. Underage patronage of bars and other restricted public places is also raising the number of new infections,” he said.
Rev Lumbwe called on the council to check the hospitality industry and insure they operated within the stipulated laws in the sector.
“Bars operate beyond their limited time. That should also be looked into by the local authority,” he said.
Chingola which is predominantly a mining town, has 29 anti-retroviral therapy centres, but Rev Lumbwe feels the district needs to establish more voluntary counselling and testing centres.
“We have to enhance the establishment of HIV/AIDS test centres just like the way new bars are being opened,” he said.
He said the opening up of new testing centres will help people to get to know their HIV/AIDS status and make informed decisions.
Rev Lumbwe is optimistic that the massive distribution of condoms in public places like lodges and hotels will help to reduce new HIV infections in Chingola.

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